It’s set on a stretch of coastline that’s an endless procession of classic white sand surf beaches, backed up by lush rolling countryside and mystical rainforests, and the Northern Rivers region of Australia is one of the country’s best kept secrets.
The Northern Rivers is a 300km stretch of coastline Tweed Heads and Grafton on the east coast of Australia, and it’s a diverse blend of fantastic beaches, subtropical rainforests with waterfalls, dramatic mountains forged by volcanic activity, and local characters in the guise of poets, artists, farmers, businessmen and eco-warriors.
The Tweed Valley, just a 20 minute drive south-west of Coolangatta Airport, is a great place to start an exploration of the Northern Rivers. This is where you leave the “big city” behind and enter Australia’s Green Cauldron, which is the ancient remnants of the largest shield volcano in the southern hemisphere. It’s been awarded the status as a National Landscape in Australia, one of just nine, and the Tweed Valley lies smack bang in the middle of this giant caldera with the towering peak of Mt Warning as the major landmark of this area. Lush tropical forests sweep up the mountains, dotted by farms and homesteads, and tiny towns and fresh fruit and vegetable stalls break up the driving along the way.
Simply driving around this beautiful area is an experience in itself and the journey into the Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat is a relaxing and invigorating way to end a day of exploring the Tweed Valley. The Retreat is a collection of luxury private bungalows and rainforest lodges for couples only with romance and seclusion as the main themes. Each accommodation is totally private and all you hear is the sound of Crystal Creek, and the occasional scrub turkey scratching around in the forest.
All the bedrooms look out over the rainforest, and they also each feature a large two-person jacuzzi, also with forest views and totally secluded. It’s the ultimate couples escape and there are bush walks around the area which lead to a good swimming hole and the signature hammocks over Crystal Creek. A gourmet dining menu is offered and can delivered to your accommodation in the afternoon (at an extra cost), and can be reheated at whatever time suits. Some of the menu items include red curry with roast haloumi and cashews, traditional English beef stew and creamy garlic seafood medley.
Breakfast baskets and picnic hampers are also offered, but the kitchen facilities in each bungalow means it’s easy to self-cater as well. This place has won one of the Australian Tourism Awards major gong - the Unique Accommodation prize - along with three international environmental tourism awards and 17 regional awards.
And for those fortunate enough to sit in one of the jacuzzis overlooking an ancient rainforest and its abundant wildlife, it’s easy to see why.